For present, Tejada content

in future, chance for lament

The Kickoff

February 22, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

I'm sure everyone is relieved to hear that Miguel Tejada confirmed in his first public comments of spring training that he wants to remain with the Orioles and help lead the team back into contention.

That's nice.

Talk to me on Aug. 1.

Miggy is saying what he has to say right now. We won't know if he really means it until the new season and the real contenders in the tough American League East try to wipe the smile off his face.

That's the trouble with this kind of situation. Tejada spoke from the heart when he said early in the offseason that he might benefit from "a change of scenery," and he may have been equally sincere when he began to backpedal on his implied trade demand in late December and January. There's just no way to know for sure until his resolve is put to the test over the next few months.

Trust me on one thing. There will be no shortage of local and national media to ask him the same question over and over again if the Orioles get off to a tepid - or worse - start.

I'm betting the whole thing bubbles up again because Tejada is human and - like anyone in a high-stress business - he's going to have his mood swings. If the Orioles flounder and a ninth straight losing season seems imminent, his name is going to be in every trade rumor between here and the July 31 deadline to make trades without waivers.

If he gets past that deadline without incident, then the Orioles will be in a position to make some big moves next winter to further improve their chances of becoming a legitimate AL East contender. For that matter, if they beat the odds and are still within wild card range this July, they might even be a buyer at midseason.

What a concept.

I miss Sammy Sosa already, but maybe there's still a chance he'll change his mind and show up in some spring camp looking for a chance at those 12 home runs that would get him to 600.

He hasn't officially retired, though agent Adam Katz let it be known a week or so ago that Sosa is no longer actively seeking a contract.

I think he'll pop up somewhere. Once he swallows his pride and comes to grips with the fact that he no longer can command a big guaranteed contract, he'll show up someplace in the National League and try to spit the bad taste out of his mouth from his horrible 2005 season in Baltimore.

As for the debate over whether he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer ... spare me.

The guy averaged nearly 50 home runs a season from 1995 through 2004. The actual number was 47.9, but it's still hard to get your arms all the way around that - unless, of course, your biceps have been chemically enhanced.

Sure, he was the poster boy of the juiced ball and juiced player era, but he never tested positive for steroids, and most of his accomplishments came during a time when Major League Baseball wasn't all that interested in finding out whether Sosa and his contemporaries were products of bad pitching or mad science.

I think we all know the answer now, but Sosa (one corked bat aside) played within the rules of the sport and did things no one else has ever done. The Hall of Fame ought to send a limo for him.

I'm glad Barry Bonds has cleared up his retirement situation. He has been quoted as saying the game isn't any fun anymore and that he will retire at the end of this year, no matter what ... and he has been quoted as saying he might continue beyond this year if his knees feel OK.

Certainly glad we cleared that up. It's sort of like when he reportedly told the BALCO grand jury that he used steroids unwittingly and told the media that there was absolutely no chance he used steroids unwittingly. It's just another example of Barry being Barry and not giving a hoot what you think about that.

I think the comparisons between prospective Orioles closer Chris Ray and former Orioles closer Gregg Olson are not without some merit. Olson also was a baby-faced kid with nasty stuff when he came up late in 1988 and established himself as a front-line closer during the Orioles' "Why Not?" season of 1989.

They aren't similar stylistically, but it wouldn't be a complete surprise if Ray had the same kind of success in his second major league season.

Funny headline from SportsPickle.com, the sports humor site on the Web: "Cartoon rabbit ESPN acquired for Al Michaels to replace Joe Theismann in Monday Night Football booth"

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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